№ 98 - Broccoli Egg Coddlers
These steamed egg custards explode with Parmesan umami suggesting a cheese fondue-style gut bomb, but no! You can eat 10 and maybe be up for one more. How is this kitchen wonder achieved?! A broth made of Parmesan rinds, stripped of all the fat and other solids. Add a floret or two of al-dente broccoli or cauliflower and a buttered slice of crusty bread to this perfectly smooth custard and I'd say you'd have a killer brunch.
The recipe below makes twice as much Parmesan broth as you'll need to make the egg coddlers but it freezes well and can be used to flavor everything from minestrone and pasta fagioli to pasta sauces, risotto or of course more egg coddlers.
You can hoard Parmesan rinds over time in the freezer in a Ziploc bag or you might get lucky asking at your local grocery store. If you like this dish as much as I do, you might even accidentaly leave an unwrapped chunk of Parmesan in the fridge for a few days.
For the broth:
12 oz Parmesan rind or dried-out chunks. The real stuff from Italy.
For the coddlers:
3 large or 4 small eggs
Fine sea salt and ground white pepper.
Steamer (steamer oven, bamboo steamer or rice cooker with steam tray)
Add the Parmesan to 7 cups of water in a pot, bring to a boil and simmer covered for 2 hours. Pass the hot broth through a fine mesh strainer and scoop the liquid fat off with a ladle. A relatively tall, narrow vessel such as a large Pyrex measuring cup makes this task easier. You should end up with about 4½ cups of broth. If you have less, top it up with water. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.
Pour 2¼ cups of Parmesan broth into a mixing bowl and season with salt and white pepper to taste. It's easy to confuse the strong savory notes of the Parmesan with saltiness, but the broth does in fact need quite a bit more salt.
Crack the eggs into a small bowl, add another 3 to 4 pinches of salt and whisk briefly to break up the eggs. Add the eggs to the broth, whisk briefly to combine and pass the mixture through the (cleaned) fine mesh strainer.
Distribute the broccoli or cauliflower florets as well as the egg broth mixture between 4 ceramic or glass cups. Steam in a steam oven, bamboo steamer or the steam tray of a rice cooker. 10 minutes of actual steaming (from the time the water starts boiling) should be enough but you can insert a small spoon into the middle of one of the cups to make sure all the custard has set. Serve immediately with some buttered baguette or other fresh crusty bread.